Tatiana Bokova, Intern of the Russian National Committee on BRICS Research – special for InfoBRICS
BRICS is an important mechanism of partnership between emerging markets and developing countries, as well as an effective platform for South-South cooperation. Since the creation of this mechanism, the BRICS member countries have passed over the changing global landscape and have become an influential association that cannot be ignored in the international arena.
The third round of BRICS presidencies began in 2019. And for China, 2022 was its third BRICS presidency, a period in which the country serves as "host "for the summit of the five heads of state. Over the past few decades, China has made remarkable achievements in various fields such as economics, trade, science and technology, while it took hundreds of years for developed countries to industrialize. Consequently, China's role in BRICS cooperation is extremely significant.
This June, China, as the BRICS presidency, held its 14th summit of BRICS leaders by videoconference, the theme of which was "building a high-quality partnership to usher in a new era of global development". They organized the regular meeting to strengthen strategic contacts between the five countries and creating a more comprehensive, close, pragmatic, and inclusive partnership of the group.
In the context of China's BRICS presidency, the government intends to hold over 100 events that will cover more than 30 different areas. Focusing on this major theme, the list of priorities of the Chinese presidency includes strengthening international cooperation in combating pandemics; deepening economic collaboration (including trade and investment, scientific and technological innovation, green and low-carbon development); promoting economic recovery; fostering effective pragmatic cooperation; strengthening political and security coordination (including implementation of the BRICS Counter terrorism Action Plan); and speeding up implementing the UN Sustainable Development Agenda for the period up to 2030.
"As important emerging markets and major developing countries, the BRICS nations should take responsibility and take action to bring positive, stabilizing and constructive forces to the world. It is necessary to uphold justice, equality and solidarity and reject hegemony, bullying and division," President Xi Jinping emphasized in June 2022.
This year is indeed the actual "Year of China" of the BRICS. With active support from all sides, China, the BRICS presidency this year, has so far successfully held over 70 conferences and events covering political security, economy, trade and finance, interpersonal and cultural exchanges, sustainable development, health, etc.
The history of China's presidencies
China is actively developing trade, economic, and financial cooperation within the BRICS framework. Some mechanisms in different areas were created at China's initiative or received an additional impetus for development during its chairmanship. Consequently, China's BRICS Presidency has a positive trend towards progress.
The first presidency of the People's Republic of China was held in 2011. For example, during this period, they launched a dialogue between the state and business in the format of the BRICS Business Forum. Moreover, the Chinese side invited its partners to expand the settlement in national currencies in mutual trade and to strengthen loans. As a result, the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism was established and a memorandum on cooperation between state financial development institutions was signed, which was an important step in the promotion of long-term interbank collaboration between the partner countries.
The next presidency was in 2017, the theme of which was "BRICS: strengthening partnership for a serene future," which meant deepening practical economic cooperation among the five countries; improving global governance and institutional development of the BRICS association. During this period, the foundations were also laid for the headquarters of the New Development Bank of the BRICS, and the five-year development strategy of the NDB was adopted. During its presidency, China approved the framework for economic and foreign trade cooperation, the basic principles of trade and investment promotion, and the first meeting of the BRICS Mechanism for protecting Intellectual Property Rights was held.
Another feature of the 2017 presidency is the development of the "BRICS Plus" concept for cooperation with the emerging countries of the South. China was guided by the idea of forming a "circle of friends" of the BRICS, with which interaction would be carried out permanently rather than on an occasional one. In general, over time, this vision has been strengthened, and today, this idea continues to be implemented by China and other member countries.
Thus, look at the preliminary results of China's progress in promoting BRICS cooperation during its 2022 presidency.
Promoting the expansion of BRICS. In recent years, many countries, such as Egypt and Argentina, have expressed their desire to join the BRICS. And this issue is also on the agenda during this year's Chinese presidency. On May 27, at a regular press conference, they brought the topic of BRICS enlargement up for consideration, which provoked heated discussions in many countries.
Maintaining peace and security. At present, the deep-seated impact of the Ukraine crisis continues to manifest itself. In the context of this situation, China has actively communicated and coordinated with other BRICS partners, jointly expressed aim and fair views on major international and regional issues, and united BRICS forces to oppose hegemonism and camp confrontation. Moreover, on May 17, the Consultation of BRICS Deputy Foreign Ministers on Middle East Affairs adopted a joint statement expressing the common voice of the BRICS nations to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East and promote just and reasonable solutions to thorny issues.
Cooperation in combating the epidemic. Public health and vaccination is one of the key areas of BRICS cooperation this year. For example, on March 22, there was a successful online launch ceremony for the BRICS Center for Vaccine Research and Development and a workshop on Vaccine Cooperation. Taking part countries also jointly started "Strengthening Vaccine Cooperation and Building a Line of Epidemic Protection".
Cultural Exchange. Under the Chinese presidency, this year officially launched the first BRICS professional skills competition on high-tech manufacturing, digital economy, new industries, new formats, new technologies and other areas, with over 20 competitions with thousands of participants. In May 2022, the 7th Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Culture was held, which resulted in the signing of the Action Plan to implement the BRICS Intergovernmental Agreement on Cultural Cooperation (2022-2026) in order to deepen the protection of cultural heritage of the five countries and the qualitative development of the Cultural Art Alliance.
Development of trade and economic cooperation. On June 9, the Twelfth Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Economy and Trade was organized, during which the Joint Communique of the Twelfth Meeting and the BRICS Statement on Strengthening the Multilateral Trading System and WTO Reform were endorsed. Member countries agreed to further strengthen cooperation in the areas of the digital economy, trade investment, sustainable development, and the supply chain based on these documents. Regarding trade collaboration in agriculture, at this meeting the parties also signed the BRICS Strategy for Food Security Cooperation, which will help eliminate poverty, reduce social inequality and overcome the global food crisis in the post-pandemic era.
In this section, financial coordination and its development should also be highlighted. On April 8, China hosted the first meeting of the BRICS finance ministers and central bank governors. China, Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa discussed such topics as the macroeconomic situation and policy coordination, financial payment systems, investment in infrastructure, and the success of the New Development Bank. The five countries' prospects include strengthening policy coordination and practical partnership in the financial sector.
Consequently, the BRICS countries complement each other's strengths, continue to harness the potential of cooperation, expand areas of partnership, and become a model for emerging markets and developing countries to achieve self-improvement through unity.
As 2022 BRICS presidency, China proposed to comprehensively deepen cooperation in economy and trade, finance, innovation, digital economy, green development, and poverty reduction and alleviation. China-driven interaction within the BRICS mechanism has yielded many practical and important preliminary results. From leaders' meetings to ministerial meetings, from relevant working groups and consultation mechanisms in various fields to specific projects and activities, China has held over 70 conferences and events in these areas.
South Africa, Brazil, Russia and India appreciate China's BRICS presidency in 2022 and express their gratitude to the Chinese government and people for hosting the 14th BRICS summit. The five participating countries have glorious prospects for cooperation and only together can they contribute to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other areas of BRICS partnership.